Elena Richard, a white suburban mother of four stands in front of her house as it burns to the ground. The cops tell Elena's husband that it looks like someone intentionally set the fires.
The show flashes back to four months earlier, August of 1997. Elena calls the cops on Mia, a black woman who looks homeless.
Mia drives off with her daughter Pearl to look at apartments. Elena happens to be the landlord who shows the apartment to Mia and Pearl. Elena offers Mia a great deal on the apartment when she realizes she's the homeless woman she saw earlier that day.
Elena's family gives her a hard time for renting the apartment to a homeless person. Pearl, on the other hand, is excited about the new apartment.
Elena complains about her youngest daughter, Isabelle. She reminds her husband that they have scheduled time to have sex when he tries to woo her.
Mia has flashbacks of being on a subway with a sketchy-looking man in her dreams.
Elena's son Moody swings by the apartment to welcome Pearl to the neighborhood. Moody helps Mia and Pearl move in.
Pearl and Moody become fast friends. Pearl explains to Moody that she and her mom move around every few months.
Isabelle intentionally burns a large chunk of her hair to spite her mother. Elena takes Isabelle to the hair salon to get her hair cut.
Elena offers Isabelle a job as a housekeeper in her home when she finds out she's working late nights at a Chinese restaurant. Mia tells Elena she is not interested in cleaning her house. Mia also informs Elena that her soon Moody has been at her apartment frequently hanging out with Pearl.
Moody takes Pearl to his house. Pearl is taken back by how nice the house is. Elena invites Pearl to stay and have dinner with her family. Elena drives Pearl home, and Pearl expresses that she hopes to be a journalist someday.
Moody gets Pearl a bike so that he can show her his favorite spot. The pair are caught trespassing by neighborhood watch and taken home. Mia chastizes Pearl loudly in front of everyone. Mia tells Pearl she has to give the bike back. Mia and Pearl argue about whether they are going to stay in Shaker.
Isabelle challenges her mother and refuses to wear the dress her mom wants her to wear to her orchestra concert. Isabelle gives in and puts on the dress, but makes a statement by writing the words " I am not your puppet" across her forehead.
Mia decides she and Pearl can stay in Shaker, and accepts the job as Elena's housekeeper. Elena calls the source Mia provided for a background check, but they tell her they do not know Mia.